Coming off a divisive budget debate this spring, Kansas legislators and higher education officials hope fact-finding visits to campuses this month by lawmakers will lessen tensions, but the groups have different goals ahead of the tour.
The Republican-controlled Legislature reduced funding for universities, community colleges and technical colleges by 3 percent overall for the fiscal year that began in July and kept it at about that level for the next fiscal year. When the Board of Regents imposed tuition increases for the fall, it pointedly calculated how much less the hikes would have been with no cuts.
Higher education officials said the tour starting Tuesday allows them to educate legislators about campus needs, showcase strong programs and demonstrate efficient operations.
"I'm hopeful that the tour will help them understand the good management decisions that are being made," Fort Hays State University President Ed Hammond said during an interview.
The conservative Republicans who control both legislative chambers want to build relationships as well. But they've also committed the state to cutting personal income taxes, believing it will stimulate economic growth, and are looking for information that helps them rein in spending.